Windows Server with ARM? Crazier ideas have happened

Microsoft is reportedly pondering an ARM-based flavor of Windows Server. The idea may just make sense.

Microsoft is reportedly developing a version of Windows Server for ARM-based servers. The big question is what Microsoft would get out of such a move.

According to Bloomberg, Microsoft is exploring ARM servers.

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ARM servers, which have a tiny sliver of the server market today, have generated buzz due to their energy efficiency in hyperscale data centers. ARM could also theoretically give Intel a run in server chips. Meanwhile, Intel is trying to break ARM's lock on mobile.

Hewlett-Packard has popularized ARM-servers with its Moonshot effort. In addition, ARM processor vendors are powering a bevy of specialized servers.

HP launches 'first enterprise-class' ARM-based server  |  Research: 69 percent say microservers are a significant innovation

Windows Server would bring a whole new spin to ARM-based servers and give the effort more credibility. Windows Server is one of the leading data center platforms along with Linux.

So what's in it for Microsoft?

A few thoughts:

  1. Don't forget that Microsoft may already be experimenting with ARM-based servers in its own hyperscale data centers. After all, Microsoft runs Azure, which competes with Amazon Web Services. If ARM moves the efficiency needle, Microsoft could benefit by doing an ARM version of Windows Server.

  2. Should ARM take off, a Windows Server flavor for the ecosystem would provide the market with a Microsoft alternative to Linux.

  3. ARM has a massive ecosystem that Microsoft could leverage and gain more Windows Server converts.

  4. According to Tech Pro Research, 33 percent are evaluating ARM servers in the next 12 months. 

For now, you can cue your Windows Server RT jokes (following Microsoft's Windows RT miscue), but an ARM version of Windows Server may just make some sense. After all, IT buyers already see ARM-based servers as a significant innovation. 

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